Have you ever been absolutely shocked that one of your favorite authors had a work you never expected him to have? I mean sure, everybody has to start somewhere, but you have your expectations, and every now and then something is found that rips them all apart, or creates even better ones in their place. I was not expecting this to happen with Gene Yang, author of one of my favorite graphic novels to date, American Born Chinese.
See, American Born Chinese is a book that tells three stories: one is a take on the traditional Monkey King tale (which Dragonball is based upon as well), the second is about a Chinese boy trying to fit in, while the final tells a story of an annoying cousin come to visit. All are told magnificently and leave you with a smile on your face afterwards. I had not seen any other works by Yang on the shelf, so I figured he had either told the story he had to tell, or he had works that were nice and independent and alluding my grasp. About a month ago, I went on Amazon and found three other comics done by Yang, all before he put out ABC. Two of them, Gordon Yamamoto And The King Of The Geeks and Loyola Chin and the San Peligran Order, appear to be more along the lines of what I already expected from the author in question. The other they had listed, through me entirely for a loop, and puts the point as to why I am including this here at Nonfiction.
Enter The Rosary Comic Book. A small, simple comic book detailing in full the Catholic Rosary prayer. Gene even presents instructions on how to perform the prayer, whether it be using an actual rosary, or using the comic itself. He informs people to use a rectangular panel of the comic as an Our Father, a square panel as a Hail Mary, and every panel that has a rose next to it will be time to pray the Glory. I am sure that this book was intended to be used for Catholics either in church or at home, but it was eyeopening for me, a Jew. I knew very little about Catholic customs up until now. All I knew were the snippets I had learned from friends over the years. Now, with this comic, I understand their traditions a bit more. Another item to note about The Rosary Comic Book is that the people are not drawn as white, which makes sense. Each person has a tan to their skin, which would come with being in a desert region, wouldn’t it? On his website, Gene explains why he wrote and drew the comic book in nice, simple terms:
I’ve always struggled with how to incorporate my faith into my comics in an authentic way. One Lent, I decided to do a comic adaptation of the Rosary Prayer, rather than giving up chocolate or soda. The Rosary Comic Book is the result.
Makes sense to me. For anyone looking to learn a bit more about Catholic tradition, or if you are simply in the mood for a nice, well drawn and thought out comic book, I highly recommend tracking down a copy of The Rosary Comic Book. My expectations, they have changed.